Gjipe beach -from the moment I noticed a little white spot on the map while preparing my itinerary, I knew I had to visit this!
What is Gjipe?
This little white spot is, in fact, a very small beach surrounded by high rocks inaccessible for an average tourist. To get to Gjipe you have put a lot of effort, but it pays back – you will have a beautiful, secluded beach all to yourself.
Gjipe – what if paradise turns out to be disappointment?
I was afraid that I would get very disappointed. I was imagining this beach as empty and inaccessible but, on the other hand, I knew that few places are still left intact by mass tourism. I was excited and at the same time, I was trying to keep my enthusiasm under control just in case it would turn out that Gjipe is very popular among tourists, crowded, noisy and there are regular buses taking hordes of young, not fully sober people to that place.
Having such gloomy thoughts, just imagine my surprise after my first conversation with two locals about Gjipe. Their directions were contradictory to the map, they weren’t sure where the beach is located and were even more surprised than me hearing that I wanted to find it. There were no buses going to that beach, no boats, nothing. Anyone I asked about it would look at me in a weird way and say that Dhërmi beach is equally as beautiful but, at least, it’s much closer.
The lack of reliable information regarding the whereabouts of the beach only whetted my appetite for reaching it. Finding Gjipe slowly turned into my personal ambition, a highlight of the Albanian trip, a challenge I could not let go.
Where is Gjipe beach and how to get there?
Determined to find it no matter what it takes, I got up the next day early morning, ate tasty, though quite predictable Albanian breakfast (sheep cheese, bread, butter, milk, jam) I packed my backpack, bought some water and set off into the unknown.
First, I had to walk uphill until I reached the place where the bus stopped the previous day. It took me about 45 minutes. Next, my plan was to hitchhike or catch a bus and ask the driver to stop near the road to Gjipe. I was lucky enough to catch a bus going to Sarandë and after some 15 minutes and 200 leks less, I was standing at the beginning of a long way down, admiring the beautiful but scary canyon.
Gjipe canyon – walking through amazing landscapes
The best and longest part of my journey was about to begin. According to the map, there was only one way so I wasn’t afraid of getting lost. After I walked away from the main road, everything became silent. There was only me, the canyon below, mountains behind and a narrow road with olive orchards on my right. I love such moments in my travels when I am with myself only and there is absolutely nothing and no one else to distract me from my thoughts. I usually take all the time I want to take photos or just admire the breathtaking views. It’s my earthly and totally attainable paradise.
Gjipe – when getting there gets challenging
Halfway to the beach, the asphalt changed into a gravel road with large rocks. I walked past a small car park and a sign to some monastery. The view was becoming more and more stunning. On my left, a green and steep mountain, on my right, endless, blue sea and bunkers built into the mountain side, hidden between leafless bushes. 15 minutes of walking on the gravel road and there it was.
A tiny white spot still at the bottom of the road, my beach, Gjipe.
Although it was very hot and I was sweating like crazy, I paced up to reach my destination faster.
Finally there – Gjipe indeed is secluded!
There were some 16 people on the beach, two off-road cars turned into a small camp-site, a tent, a few sunbeds and nothing else.
I defied the temptation to jump into the sea right away and do nothing else but swim all day and decided to peek into the canyon first. It was one of very few moments when I wished I was accompanied by someone, because I wanted to explore the canon deeper, but was afraid of doing it on my own. My mobile phone didn’t work in Albania at all – I could not call, send or receive any messages. In case of danger, there would be no one to help, so I didn’t want to take this unnecessary risk. Another reason to come back one day. ;-)
The canyon was very high (approximately 80 meters), with robust greenery, large rocks and a path which looked like a riverbed. The more I walked, the narrower it got.
Chilling out on the beach
I turned back before I would get so excited to explore it more and change my plans for the day. Instead, I spent a brilliantly relaxing day on the beach, swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing on a quiet and nearly empty beach.
Sometime around midday, or maybe later, a little motor boat with five Albanians arrived. One of them approached me to have a chat. After some minutes, I was surrounded by all of the guys and they offered to give me a lift to the Dhërmi beach later in the day. We agreed to meet again in 5 hours.
I should have checked my watch then….
Shortly after 5 pm they were still not there. I am a very punctual person and I automatically assumed that they forgot about our little agreement and decided to give them 15 minutes and then walk on my own. Quarter past five, there were still not there, so I set off. Some 10 minutes later and halfway through the gravel road, I was swearing loud about my impatience. The motor boat just passed me, but it was too late.
Getting back is also a challenge when you run out of water…
The project “getting back” became complicated once I noticed that I nearly run out of water. Anyway, I am strong when necessary and don’t get upset when things don’t go strictly according to my plan, so I just kept walking uphill thinking about getting nice muscles in my legs.
When I reached the main road I decided to hitchhike. It took me a whole minute of waiting to stop a car going to Dhërmi. The driver, a middle-aged Albanian, dropped me off near a petrol station. Few meters later I found a shop and bought cold water. Drinking it, I felt new layers of power entering my body and since the sun was slowly going down, I took a slow walk back to the village taking lots of pictures.
When I reached the camping it was already dinner time. After eating I took a final walk on the Dhërmi beach, took a long shower and decided to update my blog.
It was the only evening when I refused to talk to other people because I needed some time only for myself. After all the previous days spent in great company of other travellers and locals, I wanted to focus on myself, my thoughts and plans for the future, both short and long term.
Next day, I got up shortly before the sunrise and went to the beach to say goodbye to the sea. Dhërmi is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and the trip to Gjipe made me realize a few things.
The most important one was that once I decide to do something, I am able to find renewable sources of determination and strength to reach my goals, despite just any obstacles.
That’s definitely a conclusion worth all the trouble.
Summing up: on that day I walked 13 km and hitchhiked 12km. The temperature was above 36 degrees and I walked up or downhill. ;-)
Where to find Gjipe and how to get there if you don’t have a car:
If you’re insane enough to also want to walk to this beach, here are some guidelines.
First, you need to reach the main road between Sarandë and Tirana, where all the buses stop. There’s a small café nearby and every local will know about this place. It is literally the only possibility. Then, when you are on a bus or hitchhiking, ask the driver to stop near ILLIAS. You will notice the canyon and the small road on your right. That’s where you need to get off. Now it should be easy. Just keep walking down the road and once you reach the car park, go right into something looking like a total jungle. After a few meters, it changes into the gravel road. Don’t follow the “monastery” sign. Gjipe beach is at the bottom.
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